This year’s WGC Writing Room Intensive at the Toronto Screenwriting Conference is notable for a couple of reasons. For one, it’s the first time the TSC’s Intensive is focusing on comedy writing. And secondly, the Intensive is being run by Kevin White and Ins Choi, the co-creators of CBC’s hit comedy Kim’s Convenience, giving the participants the opportunity to write a mock episode of the series which is, coincidentally, prepping for Season 2 on CBC.
On Thursday, Amy Cole, Derek Robertson, Elize Morgan, Gillian Muller, Jennifer Siddle, Lisa Rose Snow, Marcia Johnson and Richard Clark will join White, Choi and myself for six-hour session (there will be snacks, just like a real writer’s room). What can these lucky eight expect from the session? We got Kevin White to tease what’s in store. And check back on Friday to read my recap of the session; I’ll be moderating a panel discussing the group’s experiences on Saturday, April 22, at the Toronto Screenwriting Conference.
First off, what interested you about participating in the Writing Room Intensive this year?
Kevin White: It’s hard to get experience making stuff and doing stuff. I feel like anytime you can share that with people, with the hopes that people can learn and get better at the craft [is good]. And, hopefully, we learn something too and get a chance to meet emerging or young writers. That’s what was in it for us. If anyone can take anything away from the way we write the show, all the better.
What are you hoping they walk away with?
I don’t really know how other writer’s room are run. I’ve been in other people’s rooms as a writer for hire, so I have some sense of that. I’ve adapted a lot of things over the years as to how we approach breaking story and writing scripts collectively, so I hope some of that might be informative and helpful to people who have had less time in rooms. From a selfish point of view, it’s always nice to meet writers you haven’t worked with before and have a chance to see what their ideas are about, how they think and their point of view. I think it will be exciting for us to have eight fresh eyes on the material and really hear what it’s like for someone who hasn’t had any previous experience or exposure to the behind-the-scenes of our show freshen our outlook as well.
Will you be setting up the Intensive like you do it on Kim’s Convenience?
We’re going to try. Obviously, we have part of the morning finding out who everyone is. Then we’ll share ideas.
What can you say about the breakout sessions you have planned?
We have seven writers in the room on Kim’s Convenience now. With a number like that, we often work in different side group configurations. I hope we’ll have time to break up how we do it a little bit. Ins will have half the room, I will have half the room and we’ll be able to work in two smaller groups and report back to the bigger group. We want to be able to work with as many people as possible and meet with as many people as possible.
People will, presumably, be coming to the table with ideas. We need to hear those ideas and ruminate on them on them in the smaller groups. We’ll boil down to the ones that seem to have the most promise and then get back together and have feedback as the groups present their strongest ideas. They may be big stories and they may be small stories. Then, once we land on the stories we like the most and can sort of fit together, then we can figure out what will be the main story and what will be the other story. There might even be a third story. Then we’ll probably break off again into groups and beat those out.
Are you expecting to have an episode outline completed by the end of the day?
[Laughs.] I don’t know! I’m sure we can cobble together something. You can always make something because of time constraints because day’s end is coming. But, yes, I think we’ll be able to cobble together the bones of an episode and try to come up with what those 18 or 20 scenes could be for this typical Kim’s Convenience episode.
The Toronto Screenwriting Conference runs April 22-23, 2017. Get the latest information—including events and how to register—on the official website.